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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, June 23, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

The audiobook version of The Story of the Tour de France, Volume 1 is available.

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UAE Team Emirates squad selected for Tour de France title defense

The team sent me this release:

UAE Team Emirates have unveiled the team heading into the Tour de France (26 June-18 July) to start the Grand Boucles which begins from the city of Brest.

The team heads into the 21 stages led by 2020 champion Tadej Pogačar, with a mix of climbers and flat-terrain experts to support the Slovenian.

Tadej Pogacar

Tadej Pogacar is trying for another yellow jersey. Sirotti photo

This year’s route covers a total distance of 3,383 kilometres and is notable for two long individual time trials (totalling 58km) which will be crucial in the battle for the yellow jersey. The race will spend much of the first week on the flat, rolling roads of Brittany before transitioning over to the Alps and onto the Pyrenees before the surviving riders make it to the Champs Elysees in Paris.

Team Manager Joxean Matxin Fernandez (Spa) will lead the squad alongside Sports Directors Andrej Hauptman (Slo) and Simone Pedrazzini (Swi). The team is comprised of 8 riders:

– Tadej Pogačar (Slo)
– Rafal Majka (Pol)
– Davide Formolo (Ita)
– Brandon McNulty (USA)
– Marc Hirschi (Swi)
– Mikkel Bjerg (Den)
– Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor)
– Rui Costa (Por)

Tadej Pogačar: “It’s a privilege to be back to the Tour as the defending champion.It’s been a tough year for a lot of people and we hope we can give everyone 3 weeks of exciting racing.

My year so far has gone really well and I’m really looking forward to starting this Tour with good preparation and good condition. I am confident in myself and my team, we can’t wait for the challenge.”

Joxean Matxin Fernandez (Team Manager): “Our aim for this year is clear: we are going to try and defend the title which Tadej claimed last year, so we have built a team around him. We have a good mix of youth and experience to support Tadej with a strong block of climbers and also solid riders for the flat roads.

"Obviously we’ll be heavily marked by the other teams and it’s not going to be an easy task, but we are confident and know that a big result is well within the capabilities of Tadej and the team.”

Team DSM present 2021 Tour de France roster

Here’s the update the team sent me:

With only a few days until the peloton will take to the start line in Brest, set for this year’s edition of the Tour de France, Team DSM confirm their eight-rider strong roster that will take on an exciting edition of La Grand Boucle.

Faced with a tricky route around France, including a dangerous and opportunistic first week, followed by trips to the gruellingly difficult Alps and Pyrenees that include famous climbs such as the Col de la Colombière and Col du Portet, it’s set to be an action-packed three weeks of racing in France. It’s not only the climbs that will provide thrilling battles, the route is also littered with several sprint opportunities, setting up an exciting showdown between the fast men of the bunch. Looking to build on their successful 2020 campaign in which the team claimed three brilliant stage wins and excited fans worldwide with their aggressive brand of racing, the team will once again go on the hunt for stage success in the sprints and look for opportunities to ride aggressively in the breakaway.

Soren Kragh Andersen

Søren Kragh Andersen wins stage 19 of the 2020 Tour when Team DSM was named Team Sunweb. Photo: Pauline Ballet.

After a solid block of racing, well designed and executed training plans by the team’s experts, coupled with a team sprint train camp, our eight-rider selection is ready roll out in style and fight for the Team DSM jersey’s success throughout a three-week adventure together in France.

Team DSM’s Tour de France coach Luke Roberts said: “After a successful 2020 campaign where we took three stage wins, our main focus for this year’s Tour de France will once again be to target day results. We have a really solid team train for the several possible bunch sprint opportunities which we’ll be faced with throughout the race. For the intermediate and mountain stages our aim will be aggressive and opportunistic racing, playing different cards and utilising the strength of the entire team to try and take advantage, like we did last year. It will be an interesting start to this year’s race without a traditional prologue, TTT or bunch sprint, and the first two stages are directly quite difficult which will make a very exciting start. From there, we’ll pick and choose our days wisely to go on the attack throughout the rest of the race, hunting for those stage successes and showcase our Team DSM jersey in its first Tour de France.”

Line-up:
Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Tiesj Benoot (BEL)
Cees Bol (NED)
Mark Donovan (GBR)
Nils Eekhoff (NED)
Joris Nieuwenhuis (NED)
Casper Pedersen (DEN)
Jasha Sütterlin (GER)

EF Education–NIPPO's Tour de France roster

The team sent me this release:

The 2021 Tour de France is almost here. The Grand Départ is scheduled for this Saturday and EF Education-NIPPO is ready to take on the iconic 21 stage race.

This year’s route will feature two back-to-back climbs up the mighty Mont Ventoux, three summit finishes, and two individual time trials for the first time since 2013. The course certainly looks different to what we’ve seen in the most recent years — but let’s not forget one part of the route we can always count on: the spectacular finale on the Champs Élysées. Allez.

The 108th edition begins with a demanding stage that will suit riders like Sergio Higuita and Rigoberto Urán since its final kilometres are uphill. And our Colombian duo certainly knows how to attack a climb or two.

Rigoberto Uran

Rigoberto Uran (shown in the 2019 Tour de France) will be starting the Tour for the 8th time. Sirotti photo.

Speaking of climbs: the famed and feared Mont Ventoux. There are just three summit finishes throughout this year’s route, but the race organizers decided that the ascent up the Mont Ventoux was so epic that it should be tackled not once...but twice.

While there are certainly fewer mountains than we’re used to seeing, we’ll have two days in the Alps and five in the Pyrenees. You should also expect more turbulence than usual in the form of heavy crosswinds, especially around Narbonne, Nimes, and Carcassonne regions.

Last but not least: time trialing. There will be 58 kilometers of it this year – more than we’re used to taking on at the recent Tours. Plus eight stages for the sprinters, which promise to suit fast finishers and opportunists.

This course certainly strays from what we’re used to seeing in the more recent editions, but it’s a highly entertaining and traditional route that will showcase the beautiful landscapes of France. It will be expectedly enthralling to ride (and of course watch).

Since the team is due to arrive on the western Brittany coast this Wednesday, we’ll get right to it. Here is your squad for this year’s Tour de France:

Stefan Bissegger:
“I always watched the Tour from home and the few opportunities where the race passed through Switzerland, we cheered from the side of the road. Once we rode up a hill top finish with the family when I was 10, I had a baguette for lunch in the backpack and one of the spectators tried to steal it whilst I was riding as a joke. It’s a big honor for me and means a lot to go to the Tour in my first full year pro. I want to do really well in the TT and then see what’s possible in the three weeks. We have a really strong team there so I will try to support them as well as possible.”

Magnus Cort:
“It is always a big deal to be going to the Tour de France. Even though it is not my first time, it still feels like a kid’s dream coming true.”

Ruben Guerreiro:
“The Tour was the race that always motivated me to be a cyclist. Since I was seven-years-old, I always watched. Now to be there for the first time will be a dream come true.”

Sergio Higuita:
“Competing at the Tour de France is a very important opportunity because I want to give my best self to the team and show all of my potential. I especially want to support Rigoberto Urán, who has a great opportunity. I would like to be someone who can contribute and achieve great things for the team.”

Neilson Powless:
“I’m super excited to return this year. I’m coming to the Tour this year with more experience and confidence than I had last year. Every year you get stronger and learn a little more, and I’m hoping to put those lessons I’ve learned over the past year into practice.”

“It’s hard to pinpoint one part of the Tour I’m most excited for. I would say I’m most excited about the team I am racing with. Rigo was flying in Switzerland, and I was there to witness it first hand. I hope to be a part of the most successful Tour this team has had yet.”

“I started to feel like myself again at the Tour de Suisse. I had a few days off, but as the race progressed I started to feel strong again. The final day was probably my best and that makes me really excited for the three weeks of racing we are about to begin. I also felt like I was able to give a little more to support Rigo, sometimes the motivation of a teammate doing well can also help you reach that next level.”

Jonas Rutsch:
“For me, since I was a little boy and started watching the Tour de France it was always a dream to stand there on the start line. My father had to buy me a yellow jersey back then. I was always playing like I was one of the big riders. It's my second professional year, probably the first real one and now, here we go. I'm really excited and for me it’s pure happiness that I made the Tour team this year.”

“I wasn’t planning on something like this happening. I had the classics in my mind and I wanted to do my best there. But after that I took it step by step. I made it into a few stage races, I went to an altitude camp together with Stefan and I think I developed a bit of my ability to to climb. But when I got the call from Charly [Wegelius, head sports director] it was a real surprise to me. I'm just looking forward to this famous special race and I want to give my best for the team. Whatever our sports director will tell me to do, I will give 150 percent.”

Rigoberto Urán:
“This is my eighth participation in the Tour de France. It motivates me a lot to go back to racing and as every year I want to do my best, we have a very good team and we are going to try to do our best.”

“In Switzerland it was better than I expected obviously. When you win it gives you extra motivation, it means that the work you are doing is going well and before the Tour de France I felt good. I will go day by day. The Tour de France is a very long race and anything can happen. I hope I am in good health and that everything goes well.”

Michael Valgren:
“To be a part of it this year and to race with this amazing team is going to be so much fun. There’s so many things we can do as a team. The roster we are bringing is in great shape. We have some big goals with Rigo and guys who can perform well in the stages. Our Sports Directors are so well prepared and our soigneurs and our mechanics work so hard for us. We will want to fight hard for them and for the fans. I'm really looking forward to the special moments we will have together.”

Trek-Segafredo name Tour de France squad

Here’s the team’s update:

Vincenzo Nibali, Bauke Mollema, Mads Pedersen and Jasper Stuyven lead Trek-Segafredo in the upcoming Tour de France

A legendary former winner, an unfaltering fan-favorite, rising stars, and a highly-qualified cast to support them – we can’t wait to see what kind of show this team can put on for the world.

Our confirmed 2021 Tour de France line-up is:

Julien Bernard (France, 3rd Tour de France)
Kenny Elissonde (France, 2nd Tour de France)
Bauke Mollema (The Netherlands, 11th Tour de France)
Vincenzo Nibali (Italy, 9th Tour de France)
Mads Pedersen (Denmark, 2nd Tour de France)
Toms Skujiņš (Latvia, 4th Tour de France)
Jasper Stuyven (Belgium, 5th Tour de France)
Edward Theuns (Belgium, 4th Tour de France)

Last year we came agonizingly close to winning a stage – three second places and three third places across the 21 stages. This year we start the Tour de France with the main objective of taking stage wins, whilst simultaneously supporting Bauke Mollema who will start with a GC focus.

Bauke Mollema

Bauke Mollema winning the 2021 Trofeo Laigueglia. Can he compete for the GC in the Tour de France? Sirotti photo.

Sport Director Steven de Jongh:
“We have a good mix of riders coming to the Tour with the primary goal of winning a stage. Initially, Bauke will try for GC, but if we see that it’s not looking possible to reach a top result he will change ambition and switch to stage hunting along with Vincenzo.

“Despite the result, Mads rode well at nationals although he probably needs a few race days to be fully up to speed again.

“Toms, Jasper and Edward have individually all shown they are in very good shape recently. With those guys, we have a very strong team for the sprints.

“Julien and Kenny will aim for breakaways, chasing the goal of a stage win, but also help out for the GC with Bauke where possible.”

General Manager Luca Guercilena:
“We travel to the Tour with an aggressive mindset, ready to animate the race and achieve success. Our chosen riders have proven they are in strong shape to be competitive across all the stages. The main objective will be to win stages and we have selected a team who we believe can make that happen.

“Mads and Jasper have shown that they have the ability to win the biggest races and we will have a proven team around them who can help to make that happen at the Tour. Edward too, is a valuable asset and we saw in the Belgian championships that he is at his best.

“Also, Toms is clearly in great shape, he climbed very well in Andalucia and last week he won both his national titles. It’s always a boost to have a national champion in the Team.

“Bauke and Vincenzo have a wealth of experience, as well as ability, between them. With strong support around them, we think they can make some top results. Kenny and Julien are capable riders themselves and will have their chances too, they won’t hesitate to seize any opportunity that comes to them.”

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